Gary Iseminger

Aes Experience


1.      Questions

2.      Big issue, can one define aes experience w/o relying on aes properties (or some other aes notion)–can it be the basic idea or is it parasitic on some other aes notion (like aes properties) as basic?

3.      Is aes experience phenomenological or epistemic (or both)?

4.      Is pleasure essential to aes experience? Or at least some feeling (affect?)

5.      Do some cultures not have aes experience as we understand it?

6.      Is aes experience intrinsically valuable (or only instrumentally so)?

7.      Why does it matter what is and what is not included in aes experience or aes pleasure?

         a.      Is sex aesthetic experience? Warm bath? Eating? Drug experiences?

         b.      Danger of conceptions of aes experience being too broad and including non-aes experiences such as sex and drug experiences

                   i.       These are not aes because

                   ii.      Sexual partners and pills not works of art

                   iii.     If say sex/drug experience are aes, then these things would be art (or have a claim to being art)

                   iv.     Fallacious argument: Assumes if can have aes experience of X, X must be art. But can have aes exp of nature and it is not art


8.      Four goals of defenders of aes experience

         a.      One: To explain what distinguishes aes experience (and pleasure) from other states of mind

                   i.       Like sensual pleasure (e.g., pleasure of warm bath or sex) or drug-induced experience

                   ii.      From religious, cognitive, practical or moral states of mind

                   iii.     Assumption: There is a distinctively aes state of mind (aes experience)

         b.      Two: Do so w/o appealing to prior ideas of aes or concept of art

         c.      Three: Use aes experience to explain other aes notions like aes properties, concepts, objects, judgments, value

         d.      Four: Shows there is a connection between aes experience and art in a way that allows for aes experience of nature


9.      Two senses of (aes) experience (not incompatible)

         a.      Phenomenological: experience as something that there is a “what it is like to undergo it” (what like to be a bat?)

                   i.       Aes experience as introspectively identifiable and phenomenologically distinctive type of experience

         b.      Epistemic: experience as involving direct or non-inferential knowledge

                   i.       Hearing rather than seeing is primary mode of experience by which bats know their location

                   ii.      Example: Seeing that something is a chair is a non-inferential way of coming to know something

                   iii.     Aes experience in this sense says there is a non-inferential way of coming to know something and it deserves to be considered aes experience


10.    Beardsley, 1969 definition: Aes experience exists iff

         a.      Greater part of mental activity is united/unified

         b.      And made pleasurable

                   i.       Later Beardsley rejects idea that pleasure as definitive of the aesthetic

         c.      By being tied to form/qualities of sensuous or imaginary object

                   i.       Beardsley’s formalism

         d.      On which his primary attention is concentrated

11.    Dickie responds

         a.      Aes experience can be distinguished if at all only by their coming from an antecedently determined aes object

                   i.       Idea that basic notion is not aes experience, but aes properties or aes objects

         b.       Aes experience do not have affective (=feeling) features that are peculiar to them that distinguish them from other experiences

                   i.       Debate over whether aes responses to abstract paintings involve feelings

                   ii.      Kenneth Noland paintings

                            (1)    If they lack emotions (conceptual and affective) doesn’t mean they lack feelings/affects


12.    Beardsley distinguishes between special aes experience (involving unity) and “a broader concept of the aesthetic in experience”

13.    Gives 5 criteria for “aes in experience,” 1st necessary, then need 3 of other 4

         a.      Object directed-ness: a willingly accepted guidance over succession of one’s mental states by phenomenally objective properties

         b.      Felt freedom: sense of release from dominance of antecedent concerns

         c.      Detached affect: objects on which interest is concentrated are a little distance emotionally

         d.      Active discovery: actively exercising constructive powers of mind

         e.      Wholeness: sense of integration as a person and corresponding contentment


14.    Beardsley on aes experience and aes value

         a.      Aes point of view with regard to x is to take an interest in whatever aes value X has

         b.      Aes value of x is value x possess because of its capacity to provide aes gratification (when correctly perceived)

                   i.       Since one can’t introspectively determine this, this is a move toward a epistemic way of thinking about aes exp

         c.      Gratification is aes when obtained primarily from attention to formal unity or qualities of complex whole

         d.      Artwork is arrangement intended to be capable of affording an aes experience


15.    Overall criticisms of Beardsley and definitions of aes experience

         a.      Attempt to delineate aes in psychological terms a problem

         b.      Places unwarranted psychological limitations on aes experience (e.g, that it must involve affect or be unified)


16.    Aesthetic attitude approach to aes experience (and how leads to narrow formalism?)

         a.      Distanced, detached, disinterested state of mind

         b.      Get an aes experience if one adopts aes attitude

         c.      Attitude ignores or suppresses some states of mind

                   i.       Like desire that concert one is attending be financially successful and thought hall is barely half full

                   ii.      So one can enjoy the concert

17.    Idea that there are different states of mind competing for mental space

         a.      Some states preclude aes experience

         b.      To make mind safe for aes experiences, lengthen list of sates of mind to be ignored/suppressed in aes attitude

         c.      Shorten list of states compatible with aes exp

         d.      Correlatively shorten list of properties appropriate as object of such experience and relevant for interpretation and appreciation and evaluation of art

         e.      In extreme, this view segregates historical/contextual knowledge and moral, religious and political beliefs from aes relevant properties which are only form and design of works of art exhibited in mere appearance


18.    Existence of aes experience culturally dependent?

19.    Accounts assume aes experience generically human, not restricted to one historical period or social class/culture

         a.      So must reply to those theorists who say

                   i.       Idea of aes is creation of 18th century European enlightenment

                   ii.      Problematic that non-western, pre-literate or prehistoric societies have anything like same kind of experience we contemporary Westerners have when attend to artworks

                   iii.     Like idea that aes appreciation of nature began in the 18th century....




21.    Budd on artistic value

         a.      ‘Artistic’ value of work of art consists in the intrinsic value of experience work offers

         b.      This experience is one where

                   i.       Work is understood

                   ii.      Qualities directly grasped

         c.      Note the artwork is not intrinsically valued, but instrumentally valued as a means to the intrinsically valuable experience

                   i.       So if we understand valuing nature aesthetically in this way it would seem that nature is being valued instrumentally while the experience of nature’s beauty is being value intrinsically

22.    Virtues of Budd’s view

         a.      No psychological myth of a specific aes emotion or disconnected aes attitude

         b.      Anyone, from any culture, can intrinsically value experience something offers

         c.      Not narrowly formalistic: as work’s message and its history essential to experience it affords

         d.      No danger drug experience will count as this sort of state of mind

                   i.       Why not? Why can’t one intrinsically value experience drugs can offer?

                   ii.      One can certainly intrinsically value experiences sex can offer

                   iii.     Perhaps what is lacking is object “being understood” ?

23.    Problems: Needs a notion of aesthetic qualities for otherwise any quality of a work of art that can be experienced with understanding becomes relevant to its artistic value

         a.      E.g., door stop value


24.    Levinson on aesthetic pleasure

25.    Aes pleasure: “Pleasure in object is aes when derives from apprehension of and reflection on the object’s individual character and content, both for itself and in relation to structural base on which it rests

26.    Iseminger says this concept of aes pleasure clearly does not apply to pleasures of sex or drugs

         a.      Why? Rule out eating too? Might it not depend on how these activities were conducted/experienced?.


27.    Walton on aesthetic pleasure

28.    “Aes pleasures include the pleasure of finding something valuable, of admiring it. One appreciates the work. One does not merely enjoy it; one takes pleasure/delight in judging it to be good

         a.      Pleasure taken in noting something’s value; pleasure in the thing’s getting one to admire it

         b.      Must be appropriate, including morally appropriate

                   i.       Not formalistic as allows aes relevance of works message and morality

         c.      Complex and self-referential state of mind is clearly epistemic

29.    Dist aes pleasure from merely sensual or drug induced pleasure

         a.      But warily admits non-obvious aes pleasures, like pleasure in a hoe that is marvelously suited to its task



31.    Revival of interest in aes experience among philosophers a reaction to anaesthetic thrust of 20th century avant-garde art

32.    Shusterman’s four features of tradition of aes experience

         a.      Evaluative dimension: Essentially valuable/enjoyable

         b.      Phenomenological dimension: Vividly felt and subjectively savored, affectively absorbing, focus our attention on its immediate presence, and so standing out from ordinary routine experience

         c.      Semantic dimension: a meaningful experience, not mere sensation

         d.      Demarcational-definitional dimension: distinctive experience identified with distinction of fine art and representing art’s essential aim


33.    Carroll’s critique of aes experience

34.    Anti-essentialism

         a.      No common threat to experiences we designate as aes

35.    Anti-intrinsic value:

         a.      False that essential feature of aes experience is that it is valued for its own sake

         b.      Value aes experience for various instrumental goods: insight, self-improvement, enhancing perceptual and discriminatory powers, developing imagination and sympathy

36.    But one can value things both intrinsically and instrumentally

37.    But instrumental valuing are generally adequate to explain people’s motivations for seeking aes exp

         a.      To defend intrinsic value of aes exp, need dubious arguments about what people would have done if not value experience instrumentally

         b.      Can’t one introspectively tell if one values something intrinsically?

38.    Carroll: View that aes experience is necessarily an experience valued for own sake is wildly implausible

         a.      Imagine two people who both understand and process a painting

         b.      One values doing so intrinsically and the other not (but only instrumentally–perhaps for sake of doing well on a test)

         c.      Seems bizarre that one has aes experience and other not



40.    Epistemic accounts of aes states of mind not dependent on

         a.      Psychological mythical states of mind

         b.      Nor states of mind not available to non-western folks

         c.      Excessive formalism

         d.      Inability to distinguish aes states from drug/sensual pleasures

41.    Allow that aes might have distinctive phenomenology

42.    Allow close connection art and aesthetic and still allow aes app of nature

43.    Allows defining other aes notions in terms of aes exp, thought may require independent notion of aes properties.